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BMW kidney grille and trademark

Zen International Patents and Trademarks The front grille is an important part of car design and it characterizes the car brand.  BMW has adopted distinctive grille design which is known as “kidney grille” for more than  80 years. With respect to “kidney grille” shape, BMW owns the rights to trademarks  in Japan (see the below). The trademark was registered on September 27,1985. “Kidney grille” shape can be protected trademark law forever so long as the trademark is renewed.        

The design of Honda Super Cub

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Do you know Honda Super Cub? Honda Super Cub is best selling motorcycle in the world, manufactured and sold by Honda Motor Co., Ltd (Honda). This motorcycle design is so unique and widely known all over the world as “Honda Super Cub”. Honda owned the rights to design of that in Japan, but it has already been expired. Currently, Honda has protected the design by obtaining 3D- trademark rights.


Kumamon’s 2016 Annual Sales

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Accoriding to media reports, 2016 annual sales of “Kumamon”-related merchandise reached a record, at least 128 bilion yen. “Kumamon” is a famous mascot PR character of Kumamoto prefecture in Japan and it was created in 2010 as part of a promotion campaign.  Kumamoto prefectuer allows the use of Kumamon’s image for free under certain conditions.  People who want to use Kumamon’s image need to inform the prefectural government in advance. In 2016,  a series of powerful earthquakes hit Kumamoto prefecture.  “Kumamon” cheered up poeple who were living in evacuation centers after the earthquakes.      

WIPO’s statistics on International Applications of Patents

Zen International Patents and Trademarks The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has published its statistics on International Applicaions of Patents, Trademarks and Designs in 2016. According to WIPO, U.S.-based applicants filed 56,595 PCT applications, followed by applicants from Japan (45,239) and China (43,168). China’s ZTE Corporation is the biggest filer of PCT applications and its number is 4,123. With respect to Madrid trademark, U.S. applicants (7,741) filed the largest number of international trademark applications, followed by Germany (7,551) and France (4,132).  L’Oréal of France is the biggest filer with 150 applications. For more detail, please see here.        

J-PlatPat was suffered a serious cyber attack

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Japan Platform for Patent Information(J-PlatPat) is a free database related to industrial property rights such as patents, utility models, designs and trademarks operated by National Center for Industrial Property Information and Training(INPIT). J-PlatPat has suffered a serious cyber attack since March 10, 2017 and is making an emergency stop. When accessing J-PlatPat, the following message is displayed on the screen. “J-Plat-Pat is currently unavailable due to an unexpected system failure. We are working on early recovery. Thank you very much for your kind patience.” J-PlatPat is a database often used for patent search and trademark search and so on, so many people are waiting for …

Illustration of PC

Opposition to the trademark “maricar” was not granted

Zen International Patents and Trademarks As we mentioned in our blog posted on March 1, 2017, Nintendo sued Maricar Co. for copyright infringement and violation of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act in Japan. Nintendo also had filed an opposition against a trademark “マリカー” in the name of Maricar Co. The word “マリカー” is pronounced as “Maricar”. The reason for the opposition is that the word “マリカー” is widely known in Japan as indicating “Mario Kart”. But the Boad of Examiner did not grant the opposition and ruled that the registration should be retained. The main reason is as follows; Even if the “Mario Kart” is widly known in Japan as Nintendo’s products, it is not recognized that the word “マリカー” is widely “NOT” …

Photo of Maricar

The name of the mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Games will come from creative professionals

Zen International Patents and Trademarks The 2020 Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games anounced that the name of the mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Games will come from creative professionals, rather than from the general public, once the mascot’s design is selected. According to media reports, although the possibility of asking the public about the name of the mascot was disccused, they think it is more effective to ask creative professionals who understand trademark issues both in Japan and abroad.        

A Booklet “Regional Collective Trademarks 2017”

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Japanese “Regional Collective Trademark System” was introduced in 2006 for the purpose of protecting regional brands promptly and properly.  As of March 6, 2017, 601 collective trademarks have been registered.  Among them, well konwn worldwide marks such as “Kobe Beef” are included. Japan Patent Office (JPO) has compiled and issued a booklet titled the “Regional Collective Trademarks 2017,” which includes specific examples of right owners who successfully utilize such trademarks.  You can download them here http://www.jpo.go.jp/torikumi/t_torikumi/files/tiikibrand/all.pdf.  

The First Decision to Allow Regisration of “color per se mark” in Japan

Zen International Patents and Trademarks Japan Patent Office (JPO) issued a decision to register two trademarks which consists of combinations of colors on February 28, 2017.  One trademark applicant is Seven–Eleven Japan Co.,Ltd. and the other is Tombow Pencil Co., Ltd.   Please see the marks below.     This is the first decision to allow regisration of “color per se mark” in Japan. “Color per se mark” application has been accepted by JPO since April 1, 2015. According to media reports, JPO puts a high value on the face that both marks have been used more than 30 years and well-known to the public.


Zen International Patents and Trademarks “Premium Friday” campaign starts today! This campaign promoted by METI (Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) aims to boost consumer consumption by letting Japanese civil servants and office workers leave the office earlier (at around 3 p.m.) on the last Friday of every month and enjoy their time for shopping, eating etc. Trademark application for the mark “PREMIUM FRIDAY” was already filed by METI.  However, on the same day, the same mark was filed by a “trademark troll” who we mentioned in our blog posted on January 27, 2017. According to Japanese Trademark Law, where two or more applications for trademark registration relating to identical or similar trademarks which are to be …

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